Riverside

Honoring fallen friends drives veteran to help comrades in need – Riverside, California

Riverside, California 2021-07-23 18:11:28 –

Corpus Christi, Texas — One of Coastal Bend’s most famous veterans has devoted his life to helping his brothers and sisters.

Lazaro O. Camarillo III is well known for “Airborne”. He says he grew up rapidly in Vietnam because he saw and did in Vietnam that he could never forget. Those experiences helped build who he is today, but he tried to keep Vietnam in a distant memory for years.

“When I came back, I didn’t tell anyone I was a veteran for 13 years,” Camarillo said.

His experience in Vietnam left Camarillo with severe post-traumatic stress disorders. However, when his father, Lazaro Jr., died in 1990, he left a letter to Camarillo in honor of his service and urging him to wear his ribbon.

“If you don’t want to wear it yourself, wear the one you misplaced,” Camarillo recalled the letter. “They allowed you to be a father, later you will be a grandfather. Wear them for them.”

Camarillo was drafted by the US Army in 1968. By 1969, he had joined the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” through the A Sau Valley in Vietnam.

“We spent 122 days straight in the A Sau Valley,” he said. “Charlie, 2nd (battalion), 501st (infantry regiment).”

He survived the Battle of Hamburger Hill and several other battles, but one day it stands out as a reminder of how deadly the war is. Camarillo said he was walking the point when the platoon was ambushed twice.

“All the while, I blamed myself for not doing my job,” he said. “It was my job to take care of my subordinates. It was my job to pay attention, listen, smell and see.”

That day, five friends died.

After all these years, Camarillo is still blaming himself. It is their memory that Camarillo drives veterans through the military order of Purple Heart.

As state commander, Camarillo is in a new battle. To ensure that today’s veterans are treated better than when he and his fellow Vietnam veterans returned home.

“I’m hardcore-I don’t like it very much,” he said. “I don’t care, as long as I can get the help of veterans.”

Camarillo was injured several times in Vietnam. He says he was awarded one purple heart a few years later and is in the process of making a second formula.

Recently, Camarillo proudly wears his decorations.



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